Dr. Kimball sent a letter to the Kirkland Reporter last week responding to Matt Gregory’s concerns about a new STEM school and delays in correcting the many problems at Juanita HS. Dr. Kimball implied in his letter that Juanita HS will be fixed when its turn comes up for “modernization” (replacement). The district is currently pursuing a plan to completely redo a few schools every 30/40 years, instead of keeping all schools up-to-date as needs arise. In other words, every once in a while some teachers and students will get a modern building, but all others will wait to be “modernized” and learn to adapt to a process where their buildings gradually obsolesce.
Dr. Kimball neglected to note in his letter that most of the 600 million dollars recently spent under the guise of “modernization” was for tearing down and replacing (rather than remodeling) relatively new or otherwise basically sound buildings with new schools. The substantial extra cost of this new construction consumed multi-millions of dollars which could have otherwise been made available to accommodate the continuing housing shortage or for badly needed upgrades to other schools.
Dr Kimball also didn’t explain that, if he needs space for new students, and needs it now, why this isn’t a higher priority than holding back the unused money from previous bond issues to “modernize” several more schools still scheduled to be redone in Phase II.
Seems like these funds would be better spent toward mitigating the immediate housing shortage and providing sorely needed improvements to many other schools throughout the district.
Dr. Kimball says he heard the community say that the district should be fiscally conservative, but not at our student’s expense. Paring down the amount of money requested in a failed bond issue (which required a 60% approval), by substituting a new STEM school for a new Juanita HS, and running it as a levy (which only requires a 50% approval), seems more like clever marketing than fiscal conservatism.
Asking for money for housing and to build another new school while persisting to “modernize” even more schools in Phase II, and neglecting badly needed upgrades to many other schools, does not seem to be either frugal or in the best interests of the district’s students, teachers and patrons.